Saturday, July 28, 2007

A rocky start

Okay, okay! I’ve had some rest & finished the book, so now I’m ready to be social again.
It was most definitely an eventful trip, full of sightseeing, encounters with relatives, & surprisingly little emotional upheaval despite a wedding, a break-up, mental illness, & the blend of two culturally diverse families.
But first- an anecdote, a cautionary tale of being too prepared: the night before I left, I was having trouble sleeping- kept going over things in my head- so I finally got up around 2:00, remembering that I hadn’t left an itinerary for the guys or a list of things the Sam needed to take care of while I was away (if it’s not in writing, he’ll forget). I went to the computer to type it up, needing to go on the internet to get some of the addresses & phone numbers; while I was there, I figured I’d best print up another copy of my passport application status page, in case the one I had got lost or damaged. That’s right- my passport didn’t arrive, although I submitted the application 14 weeks prior to my trip (& still isn’t here L)- so in order to get back in the country I needed my photo id & application status page. So, anyway, I’m on the State Dept website, double checking to see if I need anything else, where I’m directed to make sure I comply to the entry requirements of the country I’m entering. Big mistake. It’s 2:30 am & I’m leaving the country in 5 hours- but I look anyway & see in big, bold letters;
“Passport or gov’t issued id with certified copy of birth certificate”.
Which is in my safe deposit box.
At the bank.
Which opens at 9:00.
An hour after I take off.
There has to be a mistake; how could I have missed that? I call the airline carrier that I’ll be flying- she reads the same thing I did. I call the State Dept hotline- they are closed for another two hours. I call the airport customs dept- they tell me the US requirements, but can’t be certain of the Canadian regulations. I call the airline carrier that I booked with- she says there shouldn’t be any problem- just bring what I have & plead ignorance if they fuss on the other end. Great. A fifty-fifty chance of being deported on my first visit to Canada. This will be a favorite story in my family for years to come, especially as I’m acknowledged as the smart one.
I fill Chris in on the situation & formulate a plan as we drive to the airport; my youngest brother won’t be arriving in Vancouver until 5:00 that evening, so Chris will drive back home, get my birth certificate, & go into work. If I have a problem at customs in Canada, I’ll call him- he will meet my brother & give him my paperwork, which he’ll bring along to get me out of the Canadian version of the Pokey. It’s all good. Either that, or go home, get it myself & drive to Vancouver. Not my favorite idea, but I can’t miss my brother’s wedding- who knows when one of them will ever do something so conventional again!
So, I get to the airport, hike a quarter mile into the terminal through a maze of construction detours, & check in at the counter; my paper work is checked, stamped, & boarding pass issued. No questions, no problems; maybe this ignorance thing will work. I have to wait a couple of hours & manage to get a little sleep before boarding the flight; two hours later, I’m landing in Vancouver, & my stomach starts doing the merengue. While I weaving my way through the long queue at customs, I start getting the cold sweats- I’m certain that I looked terribly guilty & any minute, sirens & lights will go off & armed officials will be surrounding me. Finally, it is my turn; I hand the woman all my papers- she squints up at me, unsmiling, then asks me the purpose of my visit. I say I’m here for a wedding, then some sightseeing- I babble a bit about my first trip alone, my brother getting married for the first time at 39, that I’m originally from Texas- you know, stupid nervous rambling. Next thing I know, she’s handing me my papers & pointing to the left, saying “You go over there” & I’m done.
Wow- that was easy. I promptly find a bathroom (nerves affect me that way) & then call Chris to tell him everything is fine. He answers on the second ring, listens quietly, then says, “That’s good news, because I can’t find your birth certificate.”
“Are you sure? It’s in the envelope marked Birth Certificates.”
“I have the entire box here (he was still at the bank) & I’ve looked through everything- it’s not here.”
Another wave of cold sweats- this could have been soooo bad; I apologize to Chris for the wasted trip & tell him not to worry about it- I’ll find it when I get home. After I retrieve my suitcases, I head off into another maze of construction detours (is every terminal on the west coast of North American under construction?) to find the car rental desk & then my hotel for the night. It isn’t until a few hours later, while lying down, trying to rid myself of a stress-induced headache, that I remember where my birth certificate is located.
I had to submit it with my passport application.
I don’t think I’ll tell Chris that part.


Chris said...

This had me laughing out loud 'cause it sounds like something I'd do! Hope the rest of the trip was better than this! Looking forward to more stories!

Charity said...

Oh, Meg! Too funny! :0)

Gretchen said...

That sounds like a real comedy of errors. :) It'll be your story to tell the grandchildren.